Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the 73-year-old Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy advocate, was yesterday denied bail after being charged the previous day under the territory’s National Security Law.
Lai faces a charge of collusion with foreign elements to endanger national security, apparently for posts he wrote on Twitter and interviews or commentaries he did with foreign media.
The Apple Daily, a newspaper owned by Lai, said he is accused of asking a foreign country, organization or individual to impose sanctions or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.
His case was adjourned to April 16 at the request of prosecutors, who said police needed time to review more than 1,000 posts and comments made on his Twitter account, the Apple Daily reported.
The newspaper said his charge sheet listed several foreign politicians who followed Lai on Twitter and cited commentaries he wrote and interviews he did with foreign media.
Lai, who was already being held on fraud charges after police raided his media company, was seen handcuffed with a chain around his waist as guards led him to a van to go from prison to court.
In an open letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) on Friday, US Senator Rick Scott called for the immediate release of Lai, along with others charged under the law, including Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), Agnes Chow (周庭) and Ivan Lam (林朗彥).
“Mr Wong, Ms Chow, Mr Lam, and Mr Lai are the faces of true bravery and are fighting for the freedom and liberties all Hong Kongers were promised under the 1997 handover,” the letter said, referring to an agreement China made with the British government to ensure the territory’s autonomy.
“They have not committed actual crimes, rather they have bravely dared to offend the fragile sensibilities of [Chinese President] Xi Jinping (習近平),” it said.
Carrie Lam has “failed Hong Kong and its citizens,” Scott wrote in the letter, saying that over the past two years, she has “proved to be nothing more than a puppet for General Secretary Xi and the Chinese Communist Party,” and has used the new national security legislation “to unfairly and unjustly prosecute men and women for standing up for freedom and participating in peaceful protests.”
“If you do not start standing for the freedoms the people of Hong Kong were rightfully promised, history will judge you harshly,” the letter said, calling on Carrie Lam “to finally do what is right, and choose instead to honor these brave men and women for their commitment to fighting for basic rights for Hong Kongers.”
Additional reporting by staff writer
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would
THINK TANK VISIT: The former US Indo-Pacific official said that a capture of Taiwan’s outlying islands by China rather than a large-scale attack is a grave security concern The US and Taiwan can deepen their relations on many fronts, former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Philip Davidson said yesterday while visiting President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office. Davidson is leading a six-member delegation from the National Bureau of Asian Research, a US-based think tank. They arrived on Monday and are scheduled to depart tomorrow. Tsai met with the delegation yesterday morning, welcoming the organization on its first visit to Taiwan since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the office said in a statement. She thanked Davidson, a retired admiral, for paying close attention to matters regarding the Taiwan